At a conference hosted by the University’s Injury Center on Thursday, speakers discussed how sports-related concussions, an issue that has attracted attention in recent years from high-profile incidents in the NFL and college athletics, impacts student-athletes.
The Injury Center hosted the Sport Concussion Summit at the Junge Family Champions Center, attached to Crisler Arena. During the day-long event, speakers from various fields related to sports injuries touched on topics such as concussion science, team policies, the influence of media and legal implications.
Steven Broglio, the associate professor of athletic training who was the event’s director and moderator, said the summit provided a chance to explain the latest research on the topic.
“(The summit) is an opportunity to educate the public, and not only athletes, but researchers, scientists, clinicians that are interested in this,” he said. “We’re really trying to show what the science is behind the injury as opposed to what is often portrayed in the media.”
Last fall, the topic generated significant attention when then-sophomore quarterback Shane Morris was allowed back on the field after suffering a “probable, mild” concussion during a Sept. 27, 2014 game against Minnesota.
Lloyd Carr, former head coach of the Michigan football team, gave the opening remarks. The keynote address was given by Brian Hainline, chief medical officer for the NCAA.
Steven Pachman, an attorney at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP who specializes in sports-related cases, discussed the legal and clinical challenges that schools, coaches and trainers encounter when faced with a sports injury. Many of these cases, he noted, end in settlements totaling millions of dollars.
“The problem is that experts still have vastly competing views on what constitutes proper standard care,” he said. “A big issue is also lack of documentation — if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.”
Pachman also noted that pictures of injured students create compelling narratives for juries, causing difficulties for athletic programs facing litigation.
“At the end of the day the health and safety of the athlete always comes first,” he said. “But athletic programs do need to make sure they're up to date with documentation and management protocols for legal issues.”
Broglio’s studies have looked into issues related to when athletes return to play after a concussion, concussion epidemiology and the history of concussions.
Currently, every student-athlete on campus has the option to enroll in an ongoing study on the long-term symptoms of concussions. They receive baseline evaluations and re-evaluations every year.
“We’re really trying to demonstrate how often the injury occurs, what the long-term effects are, things that confound,” Broglio said. “We want to just put some facts out there and dispel some of the rumors floating around.”